The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 1, 2013

Family sues over Minn. office shooting

— The family of a man who was among six people gunned down at his Minneapolis office last year is suing the company, claiming it botched the firing of the employee who carried out the attack and should have known from his work history that he was potentially dangerous.

The lawsuit being filed on behalf of Jacob Beneke's family is the first to stem from Sept. 27 attack at Accent Signage Systems, said the family's attorney, Phil Villaume.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the lawsuit in advance of a news conference Friday.

"It's probably one of the most horrendous, saddest cases I've ever been involved in in my 33 years of lawyering," Villaume said. "The Beneke family has suffered terribly, beyond comprehension. It's just a very, very sad situation all the way around."

Andrew Engeldinger, 36, pulled a gun at a meeting in which he was being fired and killed Beneke, four other co-workers and a UPS deliveryman before taking his own life. It was Minnesota's deadliest workplace shooting.

The company had repeatedly cited Engeldinger for offensive behavior, tardiness and poor job performance, and warned him a week before the attack that executives wanted to meet with him about his employment. On the day of the attack, Engeldinger was reminded of the late afternoon meeting and allowed to go to his vehicle before it started, where he retrieved his gun.

Engeldinger's parents have said he was mentally ill but had refused their offers to get him help. His mother declined to comment for this story.

Beneke's survivors, in their lawsuit against the company and Engeldinger's estate, contend that Accent Signage should have known Engeldinger had violent tendencies, was mentally ill and could hurt or even kill others. They say the company also should have known he owned guns, and that the shooting could have been foreseen.

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